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Moskva Sinking Reinforces US Navy Belief in Directed Energy Weapons

The Russian naval flagship sinking by a Ukrainian anti-ship missile in April has prompted the US Navy to increase their efforts toward directed energy defenses on warships, USNI News reported, citing service officials.

The Slava-class cruiser’s missile and gun-based point defense systems couldn’t intercept the two R-360 Neptune missiles fired at it, as they struck and sank the ship.

The outlet quoted Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, who said that the April 15 incident “underscored the need for us to put more resources against the defense of the fleet.” 

“…next generation is definitely going to be defined by directed energy and high-powered microwaves.”

Investment in Directed-Energy Weapons

US naval ships currently use “Standard” family missiles or the Evolved Sea Sparrow short-range missile, including “a wall of 20mm bullets from a Mk 15 Close-in Weapon System to try and stop an incoming missile,” the outlet wrote.

The navy is developing laser, microwave, and electronic warfare as warship air and point defense systems, restricting the more expensive ship-launched missiles for offensive usage only.

The navy tested the 150-kilowatt Solid State Laser Technology Maturation Laser Weapons System Demonstrator from the amphibious transport ship USS Portland last year. Moreover, the 60-kilowatt HELIOS system is being deployed on the Arleigh Burke Flight IIA destroyer.

HELIOS-system
Artist’s rendering of Lockheed Martin’s HELIOS system. Image courtesy Lockheed Martin

Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyers are also being designed with an integrated power system to power directed energy weapons.

“Our investment in next-generation technology with respect to whether it’s directed energy, or in other words laser weapons, or high-powered microwave, what happened in the Black Sea has informed my thinking on that particular line of effort and the resources we’re putting against it,” Gilday added.

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